Eye in the Sky, Criminal, The Jungle Book and Eddie the Eagle Reviews

Moderately big news!!! (For me it is anyway) I’m starting my own Podcast in the next coming weeks, every episode of which will be hopefully available on Soundcloud, iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, and here; just to make sure every episode is inescapable. But hopefully if you’re willing to read this, you’re willing to listen to me talk with my “Film Chums” for a bit. Anyway, on with the regularly scheduled programming…

Eye In The Sky

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This film is simply, a stunningly tense and powerful thriller. While at times managing to be the most unintentional comedy for years, just from the sheer state of bureaucracy that the military personnel are rightfully forced to deal with. Alan Rickman and Helen Mirren are the undisputed highlights of this stellar cast, which definitely underuses Barkhad Abdi, and lets Aaron Paul do some incredible work outside of Breaking Bad.

One apparent flaw that Gavin Hood’s film can’t shake though is that due to the enforced separation of every character, they never meet face to face or actually onscreen at the same time. This can’t help but make the film feel a little cheap and detached, however due to the film’s final few scenes, it does become quite thematically apt. So once the audience gets past the first thirty minutes or so of flat setup and exposition, the actual mission itself is a non-stop nail biter, with a good healthy portion of musing on the ethics of military action layered throughout. ONLY SEE if you can handle the balance of the tension caused by bread and bureaucracy, and a morality weighted thought piece on the horrors of war, despite the frankly ridiculous title*.

*Be warned, if you adhere to the rule of leaving a film immediately once the title is spoken aloud by a character, you will only have seen about five minutes of this truly great thriller.

The Jungle Book 3D

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There’s a big difference between looking real and feeling real, which Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book hasn’t quite mastered. This is mostly due to the awkward and clunky script and even clunkier voice performances and practically nonexistent dialogue mixing. The whole film sounds too clean and sterile and unaltered, which is in stark contrast to the visuals that are beautifully photorealistic, grimy, full of life and yet completely computer generated. Beyond Mowgli, a few props and corners of sets, it seems that the entire film has effectively been animated, so much for the Live Action Remake.

Neel Sethi, considering he is a young child actor, does somehow manage to carry this film as the sole human being onscreen for the majority of the film. But still his unwavering connection to the computer generated creatures, voiced by annoyingly recognisable actors, leaves the film feeling unnatural. It’s as if it was somehow completely disconnected from its audience; or maybe that was just the 3D, which admittedly was really well integrated into the film’s aesthetic, but added nothing overwhelmingly special to the experience.

The whole point of these Live-Action Remakes of Disney’s back-catalogue that they seem intent on churning out at the moment, should be to provide a brand new take or different experience to the original. But this film leans too heavily on the covers of “Bear Necessities” and “I Want To Be Like You-oo-oo”,  which ultimately makes this film feel incredibly redundant. MAYBE SEE if the original isn’t available by any other means.

Criminal

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Going in with the absolute lowest of expectations, makes this cheap and disposable thriller rather enjoyable, complete with its ridiculous plot and majority of the cast growling through their lines (Here’s looking at you Costner and Oldman. We’re very glad that you seemed to have lots of fun with your roles). Albeit, Criminal definitely feels like the original script had been set entirely in the United States and was only moved to the UK for the London Film Tax Breaks, as they use all of the exact same locations that were available to London Has Fallen, and Thor: The Dark World, and they just feel completely out of place within the world of the film.

MAYBE SEE if you are looking for a movie with a diluted Bourne movie tone and aesthetic, but with a plot ripped straight out of the list of discarded ideas for ridiculous 90s action movies like Con Air or Face/Off.

Also do not watch this film immediately after The Jungle Book, if you are a big Cinematography fan. As one of the key characters of this film has the exact same name as the Cinematographer for The Jungle Book, Bill Pope. (Also known for: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, The Matrix Trilogy, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy, and many others)

Eddie the Eagle

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This is rather a late review for this film, as I didn’t expect anything of it. But as with Criminal, my negative expectations were pleasantly surpassed as this film is nothing short of uplifting, entertaining, and all round just a pleasure to watch. While the trailers and adverts for this made the film look incredibly televisual, what they did not communicate well was the heartfelt and eagerness to the emotional weight of this film that lifted it from a paint-by-numbers “Based on True Events” story.

Taron Egerton has definitely proven himself here as an actor who can carry a film from sheer force of will that Eddie Edwards ought to be proud of. From the solid character defining moments equally paced throughout the film, to the close-up go-pro stunts he clearly put himself through, he simply excels in this role. So much so that any distracted feeling you may get from seeing go-pro footage in an 80s setting, is practically irrelevant due to the investment you have in the personal successes and failings of Eddie The Eagle. The wonderful synth soundtrack also manages to keep the audience firmly rooted into the illusion that this is the 80s.

DEFINITELY SEE as Director Dexter Fletcher can clearly do no wrong when it comes to wonderfully enjoyable and shamelessly crowd pleasing films. If you can, watch in a double bill with Cool Runnings, which gets an unsurprising call-out to in this film.

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About J. J.

A UK-Based Filmmaker (Writer / Director / Sound Editor) and Reviewer hoping to share my views with fellow cinephiles.

Posted on April 19, 2016, in 2016, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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